10/02/2005 11:00PM

Lord of the Game to take shot in Classic

Benoit & Associates
Lord of the Game will go to Belmont if he can get into the Classic field.

CHICAGO - The old Chicago claiming trainer is headed for the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Tom Tomillo has plied his trade around this town and New Orleans since the 1970's. You would have been more likely to find his name down on a $5,000 claimer than a stakes horse, but all that changed when Tomillo and owner Bill Slevin claimed Lord of the Game last December. Since being bought out of his career debut for $10,000, Lord of the Game has made 11 starts, with seven wins, two seconds, a third, a fourth, and earnings of more than a half-million bucks. Two Saturdays ago, he came within a head of winning the $750,000 Hawthorne Gold Cup, and that second-place finish seems likely to land Lord of the Game in the Oct. 29 Classic.

"We got to try him if we can," Tomillo said Monday morning. "He looks like he deserves a chance to run against those kind of horses."

Tomillo is concerned that a lack of graded-stakes earnings could get Lord of the Game excluded from the Classic if the race is oversubscribed. But if it appears Lord of the Game can make the body of the field, Tomillo - who said he'll stick with the local rider Eddie Razo - plans to send the horse to Belmont Park well in advance of the race.

"If we go to Belmont I want to go a couple weeks early," said Tomillo. "You got to get a chance to get him acclimated to the [track] and work him over it once."

Tomillo said Lord of the Game had trained easily since the Sept. 24 Gold Cup, but the horse emerged from a gritty effort in good physical condition.

"He came out of the race good," he said. "Right now, he's getting better with every start."

Should Lord of the Game miss the Classic, he could start the same day in the Fayette Handicap at Keeneland, Tomillo said.

Original Spin works for BC

Another Hawthorne-based horse with Breeders' Cup aspirations, Original Spin, worked five furlongs on Saturday, her first breeze since an impressive 4 1/4-length win Sept. 18 in the Arlington-Washington Lassie. With jockey Jesse Campbell up, Original Spin worked alone shortly before Hawthorne's first race Saturday, completing her breeze in a solid 1:01.40.

"Jesse was thrilled with it," trainer Tony Mitchell said. "I thought down the backside she might be having trouble getting hold of the track. When he let her have her head, she really leveled off good and galloped out really well."

Mitchell termed the breeze simple maintenance, with a more serious work in company set for later this week. "We were kind of blowing out cobwebs there," he said.

Original Spin, who will go into the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies unbeaten in two starts, is scheduled to ship for Belmont on Oct. 17, giving her time for several gallops and one workout before her race.

"She's a bear right now," Mitchell said. "I don't know if I'd say she's growing that much, but certainly she's filling out. This filly, she's a real easy keeper."

River Cities next for Fort Prado

Fort Prado, beaten a neck as the favorite in the Sept. 24 Carey Memorial at Hawthorne, will pass this weekend's Shadwell Mile at Keeneland and be pointed for the River Cities Handicap at Churchill Downs, trainer Chris Block said.

"Unless something changes with the Shadwell at the last minute with the horses that are running there, we won't go," Block said. "At this point, we're probably focusing in on the River Cities at Churchill."

Fort Prado's main fall goal is contested at 1 1/8 miles, farther than Fort Prado, an established miler, has been racing. But Block isn't entirely pleased with how Fort Prado has been finishing his races, and wants to shake things up.

"I think we need to experiment with trying the horse a little farther," he said. "He's been making his run and gets to the front, and he kind of hangs, throttles it down, or whatever you want to call it. What I'd like to try to do in the future is keep him in hand a little longer and then ask him to go in the stretch."

Meanwhile, in Ocala, Fla., another Block-trained turf-stakes horse, Mystery Giver, is getting closer to a comeback after being seriously hurt in the 2004 Arlington Million. Mystery Giver, a gelding, suffered a potentially career-ending injury 14 months ago, but has made steady progress during a lengthy recovery.

"He's getting close to a breeze," Block said. "He's galloping really strong, and it's getting to the point where he wants to do more. I think in a couple weeks we'll try to get him on a breeze pattern and see where he's at."